The avalanche of new fall TV shows is just about to hit — the official premiere kick-off is the week of Sept. 23 — so how do you know what to watch, DVR, or skip? Predicting the hits and misses is a tough job but we can tell you which shows are generating the most buzz heading into the new season.
Here are 10 new series that have the buzz factor:
PREMIERE DATE: Monday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c
CAST: Toni Collette (“The United States of Tara”) as Dr. Ellen Sanders, Dylan McDermott (“American Horror Story”) as FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle, Tate Donovan (“Damages”) as Brian Sanders, Sandrine Holt (“House of Cards”) as Sandrine, Rhys Coiro (“Entourage”) as Kramer, Billy Brown (“Dexter”) as Archer, Quinn Shephard as Morgan Sanders, Mateus Ward (“Lab Rats”) as Jake Sanders, and James Naughton (“Gossip Girl”) as President Kincaid
PREMISE: At first “Hostages,” looks like your typical CBS episodic crime drama. FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle saves a hostage within the pilot’s opening minutes. Yawn. Been there. Done that. But just as you might be ready to change the channel, it quickly becomes apparent that Carlisle’s not such a great guy. In fact, he wants to kill the President. Enter Dr. Ellen Sanders who is performing surgery on the country’s Chief Executive Officer. Soon Carlisle and Sanders cross paths (from the title you can guess how) and Dr. Sanders must decide how to save her family while keeping her Hippocratic Oath.
Why You Should Watch: McDermott is broody and full of righteous indignation and that’s always a good time. In her first series since “Tara” ended, Collette is gripping as a doctor, wife and mother put in an impossible situation. And get ready for some soapy angst: Dr. Sanders’ family is not as idyllic as it first appears.
FUN FACTS: In what may be a sign of how traditional networks will do business in the future, “Hostages” will run for 15 episodes (as opposed to the typical 22) its first season. This is CBS’s attempt at the model that has worked so well for cable. Producers say midway through the season, viewers will learn Carlisle’s motivation for the crime. Duncan’s wife may look like she is in a coma in the pilot, but she’s just ill and will be a character in the series.
“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (ABC)
PREMIERE DATE: Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8/7c
CAST: Sophie Lowe (“Beautiful Kate”) as Alice, Michael Socha (“This Is England”) as The Knave of Hearts, Peter Gadiot (“The Forbidden Girl”) as Cyrus, Emma Rigby (“Prisoners Wives”) as The Red Queen, Naveen Andrews (“Lost”) as Jafar and John Lithgow (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) as the voice of The White Rabbit
PREMISE: In this modern twist on a classic tale, Alice is wasting away in an insane asylum where nobody believes her story of travelling to a magical world where she met and fell in love with Cyrus. Just when she is about to give up all hope the White Rabbit and the Knave of Hearts down the Rabbit Hole where she can begin her search for her one true love.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the same team that brought you “Once Upon a Time,” know how to give good fairy tale. But don’t look for a damsel in distress. Just as Kitsis and Horowitz turned Snow White into a woman who could defend herself, Alice is much more of a feisty heroine than we’ve seen in the Disney movies.
FUN FACTS: In the producers’ minds, this series exists concurrently with “Once Upon a Time” and they’ll continue to take liberties with the Lewis Carroll original. Roger Daltrey, who was the voice of the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar on “Once,” will reprise his role. The character of Jafar is from “Aladdin” so look for other unrelated Disney characters to pop up in Wonderland.
“The Blacklist” (NBC)
PREMIERE DATE: Monday, Sept. 23 at 10/9c
CAST: James Spader (“The Office”) as Raymond “Red” Reddington, Megan Boone (“Law & Order: LA”) as Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, Diego Klattenhoff (“Homeland”) as Donald Ressler, Ryan Eggold (“90210”) as Tom Keen, and Harry Lennix (“Emily Owens M.D.”) as Harry Cooper
PREMISE: Renowned criminal Red Reddington, who for years has evaded FBI capture, suddenly turns himself in with the offer to help the FBI catch terrorist Ranko Zamani. But of course, Red has one condition (criminal masterminds always have demands). He’ll only talk to Liz Keen, a rookie FBI profiler who just graduated from Quantico. Why does he only want to talk Keen? Clearly Reddington knows more than he’s letting on, starting with some information on Liz’s husband.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: The pilot definitely rocks a “Silence of a Lamb” vibe and that’s not a bad thing. Producer promise that no one is who they appear to be. After spending a season at “The Office,” the newly shorn Spader is back to doing what he does best – being delightfully smarmy with a side of sanctimonious smugness. Red is clearly the bad guy but he’s so much fun to watch.
FUN FACTS: It was Spader’s choice to shave his head for the role. He loved the idea of looking different than he had in previous roles. And good news for “Homeland” fans, even though Klattenhoff is a series regular here, he will still recur as Mike in Homeland’s third season. (Man that guy really can’t let Jessica go.)
“The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC)
PREMIERE DATE: Thursday, Sept. at 9/8c, regular timeslot Thursday at 9:30/8:30c
CAST: Michael J. Fox (“The Good Wife”) as Mike Henry, Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad”) as Annie Henry, Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”) as Harris Green, Conor Romero (“American Gangster”) as Ian Henry, Juliette Goglia (“Good Luck Charlie”) as Eve Henry, Jack Gore as Graham Henry, Ana Nogueira as Kay Costa and Katie Finneran (“I Hate My Teenage Daughter”) as Leigh Henry.
PREMISE: Five years ago, Mike Henry was New York City’s most popular news anchor until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and left the business. Now he has TOO much time to spend with his wife and three kids. His family wants him out of the house and his old boss, Harris, wants him back at work. New York City loves Mike but is he ready for a comeback?
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Do you need to know anything more than the comedy marks Michael J. Fox’s return to series television? We didn’t think so. Loosely based on Fox’s own life, the pilot episode is full of inside jokes that allow Fox to laugh at himself. But viewers will be laughing with Fox not at him. Fox still has that good natured charm we all fell in love with when he was Alex P. Keaton. This is the best case of art imitating life.
FUN FACTS: Fox’s wife, actress Tracy Pollan will guest in an early episode. Fox said he would love to have some of his old “Family Ties” co-stars drop by. Matt Lauer and the “Today” show gang pop up in the pilot. Look for more cameos, like an upcoming one with Governor Chris Christie, to keep the show grounded in reality.
Photo Gallery: Fall TV 2013 Returning Favorites
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Fox)
PREMIERE DATE: Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8:30/7:30c
CAST: Andy Samberg (“Saturday Night Live”) as Detective Jake Peralta, Andre Braugher (“Last Resort”) as Captain Ray Holt, Terry Crews (“Arrested Development”) as Sergeant Terry Jeffords, Melissa Fumero (“One Life to Live”) as Detective Amy Santiago, Joe Lo Truglio (“Reno 911”) as Detective Charles Boyle, Stephanie Beatriz as Detective Rosa Diaz, and Chelsea Peretti (“Kroll Show”) as Gina Linetti
PREMISE: The comedy, from “Parks and Recreation” producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur, takes viewers inside Brooklyn’s 99th precinct where Jake Peralta is the department’s best detective. Sure, he may not always wear a tie or even pants but he’s good at solving crimes. Captain Ray Holt is his new no-nonsense boss who is none too impressed with Jake’s shenanigans.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It’s easily the season’s best new comedy. Samberg tames his Lonely Island persona to give a grounded but hilarious performance. This is Braugher’s first comedy and his chemistry with Samberg is perfect. Both Peretti and Diaz have serious breakout potential.
FUN FACTS: Last season stand-up comedian Peretti wrote for “Parks and Recreation.” Now she’s in front of the camera. Fred Armisen has a cameo in the pilot and Schur says he and Samberg plan on calling more of their friends to come do quick guest spots on the series.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC)
PREMIERE DATE: Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8/7c
CAST: Clark Gregg (“The Avengers”) as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen (“ER”) as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton (“Killing Lincoln”) as Agent Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet (“Nashville”) as Skye, Iain De Caestecker (“The Fades”) as Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons.
Premise: Agent Coulson’s not quite dead actually. He’s feeling much better. Coulson returns to New York and assembles a team of highly skilled agents from worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). Together, they must investigate the new, the strange and the unknown and protect people from the extraordinary phenomenon.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Aren’t you curious? This is the most hyped new show of the fall. Plus Joss Whedon, who directed “The Avengers,” wrote and directed the pilot and serves as one of the series executive producers. So look for lots of Whedon’s trademark humor in the pilot. Not a fan of “The Avengers?” Don’t worry. Producers promise the series will work for even those who don’t know their Hawkeyes from their Hulks.
FUN FACTS: Cobie Smulders reprises her role of Agent Maria Hill from “The Avengers” in the pilot. Could other familiar faces be far behind? The series will have several ongoing story arcs, starting with exactly what happened to Coulson.
“Trophy Wife” (ABC)
PREMIERE DATE: Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9:30/8:30c
CAST: Malin Akerman (“27 Dresses”) as Kate, Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) as Pete, Michaela Watkins (“Saturday Night Live”) as Jackie, Natalie Morales (“The Middleman”) as Meg, Ryan Scott Lee (“Super 8″) as Warren, Bailee Madison (“Once Upon a Time”) as Hillary, Albert Tsai (“How I Met Your Mother”) as Bert and Marcia Gay Harden (“Damages”) as Diane.
PREMISE: Fun-loving Kate falls in love with and marries the slightly older Pete. That happens all the time. Except Pete has two ex-wives and three children. Now Kate must figure out a way to seamlessly fit into this extremely modern family and make nice with the uptight Diane and the way too new-agey Jackie. Plus Kate wants all the kids, even moody Hillary, to like her.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Whitford has always had a certain comedic charm and his knack for breezy humor blossoms here. Akerman is equally charming as the not-so-ditzy blond who loves her husband. Morales is a hilarious as Kate’s best friend Meg. But the show needs your help. This has been something of a doomed time slot for ABC (RIP “Don’t Trust the B __ in Apt. 23”). Here’s hoping “Trophy Wife” finds an audience.
FUN FACTS: The series is loosely based on executive producer and series creator Sarah Haskins real life. She married a man 20 years her senior, who had been married three (!!) times before and has two children.
Photo Gallery: Fall TV 2013: Ones to Watch
“Sleepy Hollow” (Fox)
PREMIERE DATE: Monday, Sept. 16 at 9/8c
CAST: Tom Mison (“Parade’s End) as Ichabod Crane, Nicole Beharie (“42”) as Detective. Abbie Mills, Orlando Jones (“The Chicago 8”) as Captain Frank, and Katia Winter (“Dexter”) as Katrina.
PREMISE: This is not your father’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The classic story by Washington Irving has been Foxified. Ichabod Crane rises (or more specifically is pulled) from the dead only to discover that he must save the world. Don’t you hate it when that happens? A certain horseman missing a very specific body part is still around and he’s not a happy camper. And somehow this all ties back into our founding fathers and the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Part period piece, part modern day drama, part a mesh of a bunch of well-known legends, “Sleepy Hollow” is definitely the kookiest new show this fall. Producers have said that their main goal is that viewers have fun and the pilot doesn’t disappoint.
FUN FACTS: The show is currently casting the Headless Horseman, so he might not be headless for long. A rather familiar face doesn’t live to see the end of the pilot, which really makes you feel that no one is safe.
“The Originals” (The CW)
PREMIERE DATE: Thursday, Oct. 3 at 9/8c, regular timeslot Tuesdays at 8/7c
CAST: Joseph Morgan (“The Vampire Diaries,”) as Klaus, Daniel Gillies (“The Vampire Diaries”) as Elijah, Claire Holt (“The Vampire Diaries,”) as Rebekah, Phoebe Tonkin (“The Vampire Diaries,”) as Hayley, Charles Michael Davis (“Grey’s Anatomy,”) as Marcel, Daniella Pineda (“The Vampire Diaries”) as Sophie, Leah Pipes (“The Deep End,”) as Cami and Danielle Campbell (“Prison Break”) as Davina
PREMISE: In this “Vampire Diaries” spin-off, the original vampire Klaus sinks his teeth into New Orleans when he learns a plot is brewing against him. Klaus’ brother Elijah wants to help him find redemption while his sister Rebekah isn’t so sure she wants anything to do with her family. In New Orleans, Klaus reunites with Marcel, who was once his protégé but now rules The Big Easy. The original family soon learns that New Orleans is divided between the warring factions of witches, vampires and werewolves. Oh and get ready to go baby shopping, somebody’s about to be a daddy.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: There’s sex! Intrigue! Diabolical plots! Debauchery! These guys have a lot less guilt and a lot more fun being vampires than their Mystic Falls counterparts. Plus, in true CW fashion, everyone is extremely easy on the eyes.
FUN FACTS: Although the show shot the pilot in New Orleans, the majority of the series will film in Atlanta, where “Vampire Diaries” is shot. To prepare for the role of vampire king Marcel, Davis read Jay Z’s book. And, once the show establishes its own world, expect to see some cross-over been New Orleans and Mystic Falls.
“Masters of Sex” (Showtime)
PREMIERE DATE: Sunday, Sept. 29 at 10/9c
CAST: Michael Sheen (“30 Rock”) as Dr. William Masters, Lizzy Caplan (“Party Down”) as Virginia Johnson, Caitlin Fitzgerald (“Gossip Girl”) as Libby Masters, Teddy Sears (“666 Park Avenue”) as Dr. Austin Langham and Nicholas D’Agosto as Dr. Ethan Haas
PREMISE: Think of it as a much more salacious version of “When Harry Met Sally.” The drama chronicles how Masters and Johnson began working together and eventually conducted the seminal research on human sexuality? Their findings touched off a sexual revolution. The series takes viewers behind the sex and the titillation to tell the story of one very curious doctor and the secretary who changed his life.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It’s a fascinating piece of history that has yet to be explored. It’s about time Sheen got his own series and Caplan is pitch perfect as a woman who is way ahead of her time. And in 2013, it is almost hard to imagine how uptight society was in the 1950s.
FUN FACTS: The series is based on Thomas Maier’s book of the same name. Maier conducted extensive interviews (over 10,000 hours!) with Virginia Johnson, who recently passed away at the age of 88. The book was the first time Johnson had spoken extensively about her pioneering research.